Organic solvent free PbI2 recycling from perovskite solar cells using hot water

Felix Schmidt, Meret Amrein, Sebastian Hedwig, Manuel Kober-Czerny, Adriana Paracchino, Ville Holappa, Riikka Suhonen, Andreas Schäffer, Edwin C. Constable, Henry J. Snaith, Markus Lenz (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Perovskite solar cells represent an emerging and highly promising renewable energy technology. However, the most efficient perovskite solar cells critically depend on the use of lead. This represents a possible environmental concern potentially limiting the technologies’ commercialization. Here, we demonstrate a facile recycling process for PbI2, the most common lead-based precursor in perovskite absorber material. The process uses only hot water to effectively extract lead from synthetic precursor mixes, plastic- and glass-based perovskites (92.6 – 100% efficiency after two extractions). When the hot extractant is cooled, crystalline PbI2 in high purity (> 95.9%) precipitated with a high yield: from glass-based perovskites, the first cycle of extraction / precipitation was sufficient to recover 94.4 ± 5.6% of Pb, whereas a second cycle yielded another 10.0 ± 5.2% Pb, making the recovery quantitative. The solid extraction residue remaining is consequently deprived of metals and may thus be disposed as non-hazardous waste. Therefore, exploiting the highly temperature-dependent solubility of PbI2 in water provides a straightforward, easy to implement way to efficiently extract lead from PSC at the end-of-life and deposit the extraction residues in a cost-effective manner, mitigating the potential risk of lead leaching at the perovskites’ end-of-life.

Original languageEnglish
Article number130829
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Environment
  • Lead pollution
  • Perovskite solar cells
  • Recovery
  • Recycling


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